During an interview with rapper and podcast host Joe Budden, producer Swizz Beatz took the act of paying homage to the next level when he made an interesting proposal to artists who are working and thriving in the hip-hop industry.
Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean had Budden on for an Instagram Live video during Beatz’s Zone Radio show, and the two chatted about a range of topics, including a hip-hop tax that Beatz feels is owed to the pioneers of the game. Name-checking artists like DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Sugarhill Gang, and Melle Mel, Beatz stated, “I want to raise a million dollars for each icon that started hip-hop, Kool Herc on down. The fact that we’re not paying taxes on who started hip-hop shows that we don’t f—-n’ really love hip-hop.”
“The fact that we don’t pay taxes as artists to those icons that paved the way, took the lower cut for the music that allow us to feed our family and … live in the house where you can see New York City,” Swizz continued passionately. “We need to be, f–k the government, we need to be paying taxes to the creatives of hip-hop that gave us our freedom of speech to move forward.”
The “Fancy” producer also talked about the Verzuz series that he’s been co-producing with fellow hitmaker Timbaland. The Instagram Live battles celebrate the music of fellow artists by pitting them head-to-head to show off their discographies, and fans get the added benefit of reminiscing about some of the greatest music the genre has produced throughout the years.
Most recently, the series featured a soul-cleansing session from Jill Scott versus Erykah Badu. Previous battles include The Dream versus Sean Garrett, Ne-Yo versus Johnta Austin, T-Pain versus Lil Jon, and the infamous Babyface versus Teddy Riley battle, among others.
Swizz revealed that fans can look forward to an upcoming Verzuz battle between his wife, Alicia Keys, and John Legend, who opened for Keys while touring early in his career. He’s also considering matching up Rakim and Big Daddy Kane, as well as Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes.
The battles have drawn a lot of attention in a short period of time, and television networks have taken notice. “A lot of people contact me and Swizz for a lot of things, but right now we just want to keep it for the culture because it’s so organic. We don’t want to bring that part of the element in right away,” Timbaland told TMZ about the decision to keep Verzuz in its current Instagram Live format for the time being.
He went on to explain that now isn’t the time to try and capitalize on the series’ success, but he is open to revisiting any interest once the world gets back to normal. “We just want to keep it where people are entertained because we’re living in a world where 16 million people lost jobs [36.5 million people have filed unemployment claims in the U.S. amid shutdowns caused by the outbreak],” he said. “We don’t want to get into all of the politics of it. We want to keep it natural and fun and then later on as life continues and we get out of this pandemic, we can further discuss where we go with it.”
In the meantime, hip-hop lovers can tune in to the next Verzuz battle between Atlanta’s own Ludacris and head St. Lunatic Nelly on Saturday, May 16 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.